JT Spangler overcame the odds in the Pennsylvania State Shoot. He finished with the grand prize of a Krieghoff K-80 Trap Special.
Beating out hundreds of shooters in one event at the 119th Pennsylvania State Shoot held the week of June 12 in Elysburg, Pa., would be considered quite a feat for any veteran trap shooter. Local business owner JT Spangler won two events.
Armed with his semiautomatic Beretta UGB25 Xcel Trap shotgun, Mr. Spangler, practically a rookie to the sport with less than two years of experience, first captured the Kreighoff Challenge Handicap event June 18, and then later won the Pennsylvania State Handicap crown June 20.
The Kreighoff Challenge drew a record number of entrants with 1,267, which was narrowed down by a number draw to 268 individuals. Mr. Spangler, an NRA life member, rose above the other 267 shooters to take home the grand prize of a $20,000 Krieghoff K-80 Trap Special provided by Kreighoff International Inc.
"The K-80 is a beautiful shotgun," Mr. Spangler said. "But at the same time, you stick with who brought you to the dance. I might start shooting with the K-80 after this season, but right now I'm still admiring it in its case."
Mr. Spangler, who is a co-owner of ITSENCLOSURES in Mount Pleasant and co-owner of Westmoreland Aviation in Latrobe, Pa., carried the success from the Krieghoff challenge over to the Pennsylvania State Handicap competition two days later. Mr. Spangler shot a 97 in the State Championship and beat out more than 900 other shooters to bring home the trophy and roughly $2,500 in prize money.
The state champion later said his success would have never happened had he not had the support of his friends and the Youngwood Sportsmen's Association. He wasn't even thinking of entering the competitions but his fellow members encouraged him to do so.
"I was surrounded by my friends Steve Hamilton and Jim Lambert from Youngwood during the shoot-off," Mr. Spangler said. "They were like a NASCAR pit crew out there with me. I truly did not have a clue what I was doing, but they were there carrying my gun, handing me ammo and doing everything good friends would do."
The most impressive aspect of Mr. Spangler's victories is his relative inexperience trapshooting. "Trap" is a competitive clay bird shooting sport. He started the sport about a year and a half ago when his friend, Bill Kozakiewicz, introduced it to him.
"I invited him to shoot because I thought it was something he would really enjoy, and he just took to it like a duck to water," Mr. Kozakiewicz said. "He's really progressed and become an excellent shooter since that day. And for someone who has been shooting for less than two years to win multiple events at the State Championships is nothing short of a fantastic accomplishment. He really did himself and the club proud."
Mr. Spangler's achievement was not just an individual victory, but it also meant a great deal to local shooters, Youngwood Sportsmen's Association president Roger Davis said. "Mr. Spangler was the first Western Pennsylvania shooter in recent years to bring home first-place trophies from the State Championships.
Mr. Davis added that: "I think having one of our own win the top honor gives all of us at Youngwood something to be proud of. On a larger scale, I think this will inspire kids, women and men to pick up the sport."
Mr. Spangler was not sure when he will compete again. Right now he plans on continuing to shoot in the Thursday night Twi-Night Trap League that rotates between Youngwood, Hecla, Connellsville, Ruffs Dale and East Huntingdon. But who knows? Mr. Spangler hasn't ruled out the possibility of competing in the 2010 Grand American World Trapshooting Championships held in August at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Ill. The event attracts about 13,000 shooters from around the globe and is the world's largest shooting event.
"Right now my goal is to continue shooting and keep improving, but "The Grand" is the ultimate goal," Mr. Spangler said. "It's certainly a challenge I will take seriously."
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by Jeff (few years ago!)